Interviews

PHOTOS: The Amazing Natural and Seasonal Art of Slama Osijek

By 30 November 2020
One of the autumn 2020 pieces by Slama Osijek's Nikola Faller
One of the autumn 2020 pieces by Slama Osijek's Nikola Faller © Nikola Faller / Slama Osijek

November 30, 2020 – Autumn's vivid colours explode onto the nature canvas of parkland in the Slavonian capital. For 15 years, Nikola Faller and his Slama Osijek project have been creating amazing natural sculptures and land art in tandem with the changing seasons. In a series of incredible photos, we take a look

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Slama Osijek is an NGO. I like to think of it as an NGO for the promotion of creative consciousness. Our biggest annual project is the Slama Land Art Festival which is already 15 years old now, since 2006. My second biggest endeavour is the urban land project Four Seasons. As the name suggests, the project has four parts. I work outside using natural materials which are typical for each season.

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In autumn, it's leaves. The leaves fall from the trees and create a beautifully coloured carpet on the ground. I then go with a rake and I draw. Afterward, I take pictures with a drone. It's difficult to see the pieces otherwise because they're quite big. You can walk through them, a bit like walking through a maze, but it's only possible to see their full dimensions properly from the sky. I'm making my final autumn piece with leaves today (30 November). It will be dedicated to my home city because in a few days it is Osijek City Day.

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In winter, I do sculpture with snow and ice. It depends. I can only use snow if it snows, ha! The ice can be produced artificially.

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In spring, I do lawn mowing. These are also usually large geoglyphs – drawings made on the green areas around Tvrda. I use a lawnmower and trimmer for those and again take pictures from the drone.

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In summer, I use straw and sand. Osijek gets its name from the shallow waters and low tide here of the river Drava. There are a lot of sandbanks here when the river is low, particularly at the end of summer. They are ideal for making drawings in the wet sand.

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One of the best parts of making art like this is I get to be outside all the time. In Osijek, we have beautiful parks and a long river promenade. It's possible to feel the nature, right in the heart of the city.

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I think one of the most beautiful things any human can do is be creative. Anyone can do it. And I think it's important that we use this creativity in harmony with nature. With Slama Osijek, I try to show that it's possible to do that, even on a really big scale, without destroying anything and also, without leaving anything permanent. When I was younger, my ambitions included leaving something permanent. Now, more and more I enjoy the ephemeral nature of this art. Because, in nature, everything changes. Even the mountains used to be on the bottom of the sea.

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It's good to work in harmony with these moving energies of nature. The leaves are now fallen. Slowly they are beginning to rot. By springtime, they will already be new earth, feeding the grass which I will mow, as will the melted snow from any sculptures I make. As the weather warms, the grasses that are cut become the straw I use in summer.

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As well as working alone, as an author, I also hold a lot of Slama Osijek workshops. I do them with children and young people of all ages, even as young as those in kindergarten. They learn about both art and nature. High school students and even university students of the Academy Of Arts here in Osijek also come. I hold such Slama Osijek workshops all around the region, not only in the city itself. Many workshops include people who have no formal training or experience in art. Sometimes, the experience with such participants can be incredibly rewarding – to watch them discover their creativity. They often come up with great ideas, although sometimes they are not sure if it's possible. I'm there to facilitate those ideas, to assist them in making their ideas come to life. Anyone can do it. All you need initially is the will.

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All uncredited photos © Nikola Faller / Slama Osijek

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